In the early years of the Victorian age, a newly literate class of readers turned to "penny dreadfuls" for escapist fun. Blood-curdling tales, published in installments and costing only a penny, offered gripping episodes of romance, mystery, and horror. The notorious penny dreadful Sweeney Todd: The String of Pearls recounts a young woman's desperate search for her missing sailor sweetheart―a quest that ends in a Fleet Street barber shop, where the proprietor has an unsavory connection with a local baker and the secret ingredient to her delicious meat pies. Authorship of this tale, which was printed anonymously in 1846-47 in eighteen weekly installments, remains in doubt. The story's serial publication ensured an abundance of cliffhangers, and its dark humor made it an especially appealing source for the long-running Broadway musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. A delight for fans of the modern play, this gripping yarn remains a treat for readers of Victorian mysteries.